Australian Design Search: a valuable update for Australian designs law

On 10 July 2019, IP Australia announced the official launch of Australian Design Search, which replaces Australian Designs Data Searching. The new tool innovatively incorporates Compumark’s world-leading image search, advanced machine learning and a plethora of latest capabilities in design searching. This new system is based on the easy-to-use format of Australian Trade Mark Search, and aims to generate a better understanding of the designs system and produce better quality applications that are more likely to succeed.

Functional value of the image search tool

The new image comparison search feature is particularly noteworthy as it allows users to upload one or more images, returning search results based on the visual similarity of images. This feature is expected to be of significant value to IP practitioners and others involved in the area of designs. Indeed, this update should assist in serving the object of the law of designs, which is to protect the visual features of products with exclusive rights for a limited term. By inputting images of their proposed design, for instance, users can assess whether their design is similar to a registered design and thereby prevent infringement.

Other new features

The new tool also enables users to search using numbers, including Design (Application) numbers or Registration numbers. Designs registered after March 2016 only have one number. This feature complements the pre-existing search features offered by IP Australia, such as the ability to search designs by keywords, including product name and owner. Furthermore, Australian Design Search offers customisable reporting and exporting, allowing users to easily track and share their results. For example, the grid view can be alternated to a list view, and results may be exported in Excel and PDF formats.

Interconnectedness of searching methods

Ultimately, the usefulness of Australian Design Search lies in enabling users to combine various forms of searching to deliver more precise results, distilling relevant information from the vast Australian designs database. For instance, a user can combine image searching with the use of numbers and keywords, providing narrower and more accurate results. Affirming this, Michael Schwager, Director General of IP Australia, stated, ‘the new single search bar will help IP attorneys, designers and small to medium businesses search for Australian designs much more effectively and efficiently.’